Down the LDraw Rabbit Hole

During the pandemic, the kids have been doing a lot of LEGO building. This has been a great activity to keep them busy, but there is one recurring challenge that comes along with it. Things start innocuously enough with a new creation. Everyone will admire it, and then later one of the kids will want to reclaim the LEGOs for a new creation, and an explosive fight will ensue.

Cue the latest conflict. Last week the kids received a Darth Vader’s Castle for Chanukah. While waiting for Ezra to join for the main building, Gloria and Micah put together a “hideout” for Darth Vader with some LEGOs from the set. Later in the day Micah wanted to use them for the actual Castle and BOOM! We needed new tools to resolve these recurring arguments. I asked Gloria if she’d be more amenable to taking apart their creation if I could make instructions for it so that it could be recreated later. She thought for a bit and then (only slightly begrudgingly) agreed.

I had no idea how we were going to make a LEGO instruction book, but devoted that evening to research. I discovered there is an entire subculture devoted to LEGO CAD. I followed the instructions here to get going on my MacBook, and started playing around with Bricksmith (model creator) and Web Lic (online instruction generator). After a 30 min trial run I felt ready to get to work with Gloria in the morning.

My daughter was intrigued, but also skeptical, at the beginning of the CAD process. But after a few pieces she started to get into it, and we sunk the better part of a weekend into first creating the model and then adjusting the instructions from different angles, and with different sub-models. Here is the final LDraw model, lic file, and instructions PDF. Follow the instructions and make your own personal Darth Vader’s Hideout!

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